Monthly Archives: February 2019

The Script

Regular reader will know about the script that Aidan Ruff and I originally developed to put Node-Red and several other packages onto the Raspberry Pi for our own home control purposes. This has been developed with help from several people and in particular my friend Antonio “Mr Shark”.

The Script, ESP-GO and Nano Peripheral

WELL – here is the script which is intended to help set up certain Raspbian, Debian or similarly-based SBCs which now includes logging and handling Raspbian Stretch (tested on Raspberry Pi  2 and 3, 3B+). As well as it's original purpose of setting up a Raspberry Pi, the script also runs well with several other boards.  See right hand side of the above image for what the script does, given a basic operating system install.  We currently suggest NOT using this with DIET PI or the Raspberry Pi Zero as we are no longer testing either and the latter is just TOO SLOW.

February 18 2019

Raspbian and Pi Zero Wireless – users have reported success with latest update but we’ve not tested. 

The local Blynk server is not installed in the script – see this blog entry, note that I now use all lowercase for the blynk directory name.

Still using Apache but soon will change to NGINX – also whichever web server you use – if you plan to use node-red-contrib-amazon-echo – you might want to shift the working port for Apache (or NGINX) from 80 to 86. Do this in /etc/apache2/sites-enabled/000-default.conf (one reference to change) or if you ARE using nginx change /etc/nginx/sites-available/default – two references to 80 change to 86 (my choice). The Amazon echo hub in NR I then set to 8980 and rebooted. The next para is taken from “A Good Day for Alexa” blog entry:

I am using port 8980 to avoid being the hated Linux ROOT user and so now, on my Raspberry Pi 3,  I moved the web server to port 86 and using “iptables” have redirected port 8980 traffic to port 80 to keep Amazon happy while continuing to use port 8980 to keep Linux happy as PI user. All of this of course only matters if you want to use that particular node in Node-Red- with generation 3 DOT and similar Alexa devices.

sudo apt-get install iptables-persistent
sudo iptables -I INPUT 1 -p tcp --dport 80 -j ACCEPT
sudo iptables -A PREROUTING -t nat -i eth0 -p tcp --dport 80 -j REDIRECT --to-port 8980
sudo netfilter-persistent save
sudo netfilter-persistent reload

February 2019 – I’ve uploaded a new version with mods for Raspbian and in particular Node-Red and nodejs v10 as currently used by the Node-Red guys on the Raspberry Pi. 

Raspberry Pi users should log in a user PI and start with a clean Raspbian. Enable any hardware you want working before installing the script – like I2c.

Raspberry Pi users get the script in your /home/pi directory as below.  Non-Raspberry Pi users start in your ROOT directory as user ROOT, initially.

Here’s how to get the script – 2019 version.

wget --no-check-certificate

Read on…

Continue reading The Script


Digital Mini Inclinometer

InclinometerAnother item in the post this morning – for when the old fashioned inclinometer will no longer do – how about one powered by a pair of AAA batteries… this one came complete with full English instructions from GearBest. 

Here’s the link:

A neat little gadget, the “Mini Digital Protractor Inclinometer Angle Gauge” is around £12.40 (free shipping)  and while not something most of us would use every day, is a lot more convenient than my old spirit inclinometer and probably more accurate. I end up using such tools pretty much on a once-a-week basis.

Resolution 0.05 degree, accuracy +-0.2 degrees, repeatability 0.1 degree.

Continue reading Digital Mini Inclinometer


ACEPC Intel Z8350 TV Box with Windows

Today I received a long-awaited Windows TV box in the post from Banggood. Initial impressions? Well, I’m having fun, as much fun as you can have when you’ve just been screwed over by PayPal – but that’s a different (and very frustrating) story,


The ACEPC T9 comes with Intel Atom x5-8350, 4GB DDR RAM and 32GB 5MMC along with 2.4G/5G WIFI, Bluetooth 4.0, USB3.0 and Windows 10.

Continue reading ACEPC Intel Z8350 TV Box with Windows


Bosch Go Professional Screwdriver

Today in the post I received a Bosch Go Professional Screwdriver from GearBest.

Here’s the link:

Every word of the manual was in Chinese – but thanks to Google I immediately found the multilingual pdf manual online complete with a comprehensive English section.

Bosch Go Screwdriver

As it turns out, the manual isn’t really needed, well, I didn’t need it anyway. Plug the screwdriver into any USB power unit  (or any handy USB supply) - with the lead supplied – (that’s what I did) and lo, a short time later, one fully charged screwdriver. Of course it was probably most of the way there before I started.

Continue reading Bosch Go Professional Screwdriver


BackLit Keyboard Issues

No, not a review, yet… but I can see that coming. This is about PC backlit keyboards and the problems you can have with both cheap and expensive versions.

keyboard adsMy first gripe is the number of sellers on the web who claim to be UK based, then what you get is the US-based keyboard (hash where the POUND symbol should be and other keys out of place).

That narrows your choice down a little – the next item is just as important.

It seems that despite the optimised (often pained in) photos in the ads, that some keyboards (including both of my current keyboards) use one LED per key despite having say, numbers and symbols  either alongside or above-below… and not enough light for both. Colour-sequencing is all very nice for a gimmick but after the novelty wears off and you get down to some solid typing, often at an angle to the keyboard and with less tmp6BE0than ideal background light, you’d be better off with normal white key-tops than some of the pretty backlighting out there. On one of my keyboards, the numbers (not the number keypad) are just fine but the symbols above them are all but un-readable. Similarly with the function keys.

I’ve shown one of my keyboards in the second photo here as an example – virtually no backlighting on the “ins”,”Del” and other symbols. The first photo is a typical ad with all keys brightly lit.

Finally three other points worth mentioning: make sure you get a mechanical keyboard (the cheap ones without springs are truly awful) and check for real injection-moulded keys, not just paint around letters, symbols and numbers as the latter will wear away on frequently used keys in no time. Those wonderful colour combinations are great for a gimmick but do they include the option to go for one colour for all keys (like a nice red or green)… neither of my keyboards do, so watch out for that one.

If anyone has already been through this, comments are most welcome.


BigTimer and getMoonTimes

I just spent ages debugging issue with theSunCalc module used in Node-Red-Contrib--BigTimer.

It turns out that the getMoonTimes module doesn’t seem to handle the alwaysUp and alwaysDown methods the way one might expected – these do not return FALSE  if not TRUE – they return undefined – that took some figuring out.

I started with try-catch but that failed also. Simply checking as follows did the trick:

if (typeof moons.rise==='undefined')
date2=moons.rise; moonrise = (date2.getHours() * 60) +

if (typeof moons.set==='undefined')
date3=moons.set; moonset = (date3.getHours() * 60) +

I’m pretty sure this is now fixed as of BigTimer 2.1.7

Thanks to Aidan Ruff for his help in this one.


A good day for Alexa

Today was a good day (well, apart from the UK Northeast weather which was rubbish as it has been all year so far.  Thanks to some great help from guys on I discovered a cure for a phantom subnet issue that has had me worried for days now. I also found a fix to make my new Amazon Dot version 3 units work in Node-Red without being the dreaded ROOT user… so let’s get started… this blog entry is really just a record for me and a catch up for any of the guys who were helping out…

Continue reading A good day for Alexa


Devices recently connected to the network

Can I give the Raspberry Pi any MORE to do? This started off as a plea for help – as I could not find a way to get reliable reporting of changed devices on my network – as you’ll see, now CRACKED thanks to readers and in particular Mr Shark.

I’ve tried Glasswire on PC, Nmap on Pi and Advanced IP scanner on PC… the latter detects devices like ESP8266 on the network no problem – but could I HELL find a way to show JUST devices connected since the last scan.

Continue reading Devices recently connected to the network